Posted On: 03/01/2015
4204 Main Street Brewing Co.
4204 W. Main St., Belleville, 618.416.7261, mainstreetbrewingco.com
On a bone-cold Saturday night, the parking lot at 4204 Main Street Brewing Co., Belleville’s newest microbrewery, is overflowing. Like a camp of soldiers, patrons wrapped in flannel and heavy wool lounge around fire pits inside the covered patio, sipping pints of beer crafted on premises and waiting for the band to begin another set.
The place is half-restaurant, half-roadhouse. The design is upscale yet rustic, resembling a less kitschy Texas steak joint. A generously sized dining room and main bar offer a stone fireplace, spacious booths and high tops, deep black leather chairs and a lot of wood. If you’re looking to quietly swill a few drinks, head to this space. But the noise bleeding over from the patio will have you jealously looking over your shoulder. On weekend nights, the winter-friendly patio regularly sees lines snaking around its bar and big groups of friends clambering for seats. It’s the kind of place where a biker gang rubs elbows (and pints) with IT managers and former fraternity brothers who haven’t quite grown up, all piling in early to get a seat next to whatever band is blowing the speakers off their wall mounts. Expect a heavy dose of rock, bluegrass and country from local bands like Whiskey Dixon, Lil’ Sister or Slick Ice Blues.
Among the house microbrews were several winners: The easy-sipping saison had a zippy orange note that made the beer, served in a tulip glass, refreshing and pleasingly tart. The porter was as smooth, rich and bursting with roasted flavor as they come. Ale drinkers will enjoy the pecan brown’s hint of nuttiness and sparing sweetness. Less successful were the attempts at German beers, like the Märzen, and the amber and American lagers. Before committing to a full glass or growler, try a beer flight. Inexplicably left off the menu, it’s the best deal in the house: Seven bucks gets you 5-ounce pours of any four beers, served on a petite wooden paddle. There’s also a full bar with all the standards (my bloody mary was a pint glass spicily soaked to perfection in Absolut), plus a serviceable wine list.
Despite admirable contributions to the local beer landscape, when it comes to food, 4204 strangely keeps its pistol sights set on that cowboy roadhouse theme. The staff was quick to plug the aged Angus rib-eyes and porterhouses, butchered in-house with the option of sauteed mushrooms or spicy Boom Boom shrimp. I was content to stick with the smaller fare: The cheddar and potato beer soup was rich, chunky and satisfying, especially when paired with that saison. The thick-cut fried pickles, laced with panko breadcrumbs and deep-fried, came with a toothsome cup of horseradish ranch dip. Though not a fan of pickles normally, these made a believer of me.
The space that 4204 inhabits has been a revolving door of forgettable venues. This latest tenant, still in its honeymoon phase, looks promising but risks hamstringing itself by trying to be both a steakhouse and brewery. It remains to be seen whether it will become Belleville’s belle dame – or given its Western affectations, Belle Starr. If the crowds and workmanlike brews are any indicators, though, she won’t be riding off into the sunset any time soon.
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